Three different families are suing the EBR school system, saying the district has turned a blind eye to bullying

BATON ROUGE — Three different families are suing the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, alleging the school district received complaints of relentless bullying but did nothing.

Two students were beaten on camera, a third committed suicide.

Traeh Thyssen took his own life in 2019 after his family said he was a target of bullies in Westdale. His mother says she had filed four formal complaints with the school district before Thyssen killed himself.

His family filed a lawsuit in 2019, and late Monday afternoon their attorney requested that the courts rule in their favor after the school system failed to respond to the lawsuit. The family is claiming more than $2 million.

Another family said their child was attacked a month after Thyssen killed himself at the same school. A third family is also suing the school system claiming their child with special needs was a target of bullies.

“There should have been training not just for staff but also for students,” said Ryan Thompson, the attorney representing the three families. “Orientation, at a minimum, to tell people what bullying looks like and how to intervene and stop bullying.”

Two of the incidents after Thyssen’s death were captured on video.

“Every case I’ve been involved in, there’s been notice,” Thompson said. “Louisiana law requires notice when talking about these lawsuits.”

All three say the EBR school system has not done enough to protect students from bullying, even after their parents complained. EBR headteachers said Monday they could not comment due to ongoing litigation.

As we were working on this story, the communications director told us to leave the public parking lot. She said she was tasked with delivering this message from the lead attorney.

“I came out to deliver the message from the General Counsel,” Letrece Griffin said.

The area the WBRZ investigative unit was filming on was not a private area, and there was never a rule against filming there.

“When children are in your care, custody and control, you have a duty to protect them,” Thompson said. “When you don’t, you fail these kids and the taxpayers who trust you.”

Following the release of this story, East Baton Rouge’s communications manager contacted WBRZ and clarified that the media and the public are always welcome in the school board office building.

Jeremy S. McLain